Home » Dock Life » Aboard the German Navy Ships by L. Katiyo

Aboard the German Navy Ships by L. Katiyo

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Upper most deck on Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
In the last few posts we have reported on the German Navy ships berthed in West India Dock, today they had an Open Day when they allowed visitors on board. Unfortunately I was unable to take up this offer but L. Katiyo who has contributed to the site before, was available and the post  gives  her impressions of the Open Day.
After being fortunate enough to get a full tour of HMS Ocean in 2012 while it was on duty at Greenwich during the London Olympics, I was excited to learn the Germany Navy would open its ships to visitors.  I wanted to find out the differences and the similarities between our own Royal Navy and the German Navy, based on my little bit of knowledge.
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Commanding Officer on the Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
Unfortunately, the tour was limited to on deck but one of the Commanding Officers on the Mosel was happy to give me a tour and answer all my questions, and even obliged a photo.  The Mosel is the supply ship for the minesweepers.  It carries fuel, food, ammunition and parts to repair machinery, as well as other required supplies.  He pointed out the drones (the small boats accompanying the ships) which are manned or can be deployed unmanned and then remotely controlled from the ships.  The Mosel can also be used as a rescue ship.  It has a landing pad for a helicopter and has been involved in rescue missions.
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On board the Siegburg,(Photo by L Katiyo)
On board the Siegburg, I was given a tour by a junior officer.  It is a minesweeper and a much small ship in comparison to the Mosel.  It also has small, remote-controlled drones of about a meter in length which I was not allowed to see.  The drones are used to detonate any mines that are found and are themselves destroyed in the process.  The ship usually carries about 14 of them at any one time.  Listening to the explanations called to mind the computer game, Minesweeper.  A de-mining mission really is like the computer game, controlled from the ship’s computer using sonar to detect mines and then exploding them with drones when they are identified.  Not all mines are detonated that way.  Sometimes divers have to go in and attach explosives to the mines.  The minesweeping ships have decompression chambers for the divers to decompress after diving.  The period for decompression depends on the depth of the dive.
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Drones (Photo by L Katiyo)
I wondered where are these mines that have to be detonated and require joint cooperation between the German, the British and the French navies.  It seems most of them are remnants from the WWII and situated in the Baltic Sea.  The maps detailing where the mines were thrown have been destroyed, so trying to find them is like fumbling in the dark.  Only 20% of the mines have been found and destroyed so far.  Missions on ships range from 3 weeks to 6 months.  Interestingly, like the British Royal Navy, the German Royal Navy has Chaplains on board, but only for long missions.  On the Mosel, the Chaplain holds a service on the uppermost deck.
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smiley face on the Mosel (Photo by L Katiyo)
I was curious about the smiley face on the Mosel.  Apparently, the sign has the NATO logo at the back but the front was grey and dreary.  They decided to paint a smiley face on it to brighten up things.  For the other ships, the illustrations (which I think of some as some kind of mascot) are more meaningful.  Each ship is associated with a city and takes on a symbol associated with the city. This explains the Pied Paper illustrated on the ship Hamelin which we know from folklore as the Pied Piper of Hamelin.
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Pied Piper of Hamelin (Photo by L Katiyo)
The Siegburg has its own symbol associated with the city of Siegburg.  I had a wonderful afternoon and was delighted that two officers spared an hour of their time to talk to me.  Sadly, most of the crew have had very little time to discover our island as some have been on 24hr duty during their brief stopover.
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(Photo by L Katiyo)

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